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What might be publick good; my self I thought Born to that end, born to promote all truth, 205 All righteous things : therefore above my years, The Law of God I read and found it sweet, Made it my whole delight, and in it grew To such perfection, that ere yet my age Had measur'd twice fix Years, at our great Feaft I went into the Temple, there to hear The Teachers of our Law, and to propofe What might improve my knowledge or their own į And was admir'd by all; yet this not all To which my Spirit aspir'd, victorious deeds 215 Flam'd in my heart, heroic acts, one while To rescue Israel from the Roman Yoke, Then to fubdue and quell o'er all the earth Brute violence and proud Tyrannick pow'r, Till truth were freed, and equity restor'd: Yet held it more humane, more heav'nly, firft By winning words to conquer willing hearts, And make persuasion do the work of fear ; At least to try, and teach the erring Soul Not wilfully mis-doing, but unaware

225 Mir-led; the stubborn only to subdue. These growing thoughts my mother foon perceiving By words at times caft forth, inly rejoic'd, And said to me apart, High are thy thoughts O Son, but nourish them, and let them foar To what heighth facred virtue and true worth Can raise them, though above example high ; By matchless Deeds express thy matchless Sire. For know thou art no Son of mortal man,



Though men esteem thee low of parentage, 235 Thy Father is th’ Eternal King, who rules All Heav'n and Earth, Angels and Sons of men ; A messenger from God foretold thy Birth Conceiv'd in me a Virgin, he foretold Thou Tould't be great and fit on David's Throne, And of thy Kingdom there Mould be no end. 241 At thy Nativity a glorious Quire Of Angels in the fields of Betblebem sung To Shepherds watching at their folds by night, And told them the Meffiah now was born, 245 Where they might see him, and to thee they came, Directed to the Manger where thou lay'st ; For in the Inn was left no better room : A Star not seen before in Heav'n appearing Guided the. Wise Men thither from the East, 250 To honour thee with Incense, Myrrh and Gold, By whose bright course led on they found the place, Affirming it thy Star new grav’n in Heav'ng. By which they knew the King of Israel born. Juft Simeon and Prophetic Anna warn'd 255 By Vision found thee in the Temple, and spake. Before the Altar and the vested Priest, Like things of thee to all that present stood.. This having heard, straight l again revolv'd The Law and Prophets, searching what was writ Concerning the Meffiah, to our Scribes 267 Known partly, and soon found of whom they spake 1 this chiefly, that my way must lie. Through many a hard assay even to the death, Ere I the promis’d Kingdom can attain, . 265


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Or work Redemption for mankind, whose fins
Full weight must be transferr'd upon my head.
Yet neither thus dishearten’d or dismay'd,
The time prefix'd I waited, when behold!
The Baptist (of whose birthi I oft had heard, 270
Not knew by fight) now come, who was to come
Before Melfiah and his way prepare.
I as all others to his Baptism came,
Which I believ'd was from above ; but he
Straight knew me, and with loudest voice proclaim'd
Me him (for it was shewn him fo from Heav'n) 276
Me him whose Harbinger he was ; and first
Refus’d on me his Baptism to confer,
As much his greater, and was hardly won :
But as I rofe out of the faving stream, 280
Heav'n open'd her eternal doors, from whence
The Spirit descended on me like a Dove;
And last, the sum of all, my Father's voice,
Audibly heard from Heav'n, pronounc'd me his,
Me his beloved Son, in whom alone

He was well pleas'd ; by which I knew the time
Now full, that I no more should live obscure,
But openly begin, as best becomes
The Authority which I deriv'd from Heav'n.
And now by some strong motion I am led 29@
Into this Wilderness, to what intent
I learn not yet, perhaps I need not know;
For what concerns my knowledge God reveals.

So spake our Morning Star, then in his rise, And looking round on every side beheld 295 in pathless Defart, dusk with horrid Thades;


The way he came not having mark’d, return
Was difficult, by human steps untrod :
And he still on was led, but with such thoughts
Accompanied of things past and to come,

Lodg'd in his breast, as well might recommend
Such Solitude before choicest Society.
Full forty days he pass'd, whether on hill,
Sometimes, anon in shady vale, each night
Under the covert of some antient Oak

305 Or Cedar, to defend him from the dew, Or harbour'd in one Cave, is not reveal'd; Nor tarted human food, nor hunger felt Till those days ended, hunger'd then at last 309 Among wild Beasts: they at his fight grew mild, Nor Neeping him nor waking harm’d, his walk The fiery Serpent Aed, and noxious Worm, The Lion and fierce Tiger glar'd aloof. But now an aged man in rural weeds,

374 Following, as seem'd, the quest of some stray Ewe, Or wither'd sticks to gather, which might serve Against a Winter's day when winds blow keen, To warm him wet return'd from Field at Eve, He saw approach, who first with curious eye Perus'd him, then with words thus utter'd spake. 320

Sir, what ill chance hath brought thee to this place So far from path or road of men, who passIn Troop or Caravan, for single none Durst ever, who return’d, and dropt not here His Carcase, pin'd with hunger and with drought, I ask the father, and the more admire, For that to me thou seem'ft.the Man, whom late



Our new baptizing Prophet at the Ford
Of Jordan honour'd so, and call'd the Son
Of God: I saw and heard, for we sometimes 330
Who dwell this wilde, constrain’d by want, come forth
To Town or Village nigh (nigheft is far)
Where ought we hear, and curious are to hear,
What happens new; Fame also finds us out. 334

To whom the Son of God. Who brought me hither Will bring me hence, no other Guide I seek,

By Miracle he may, reply'd the Swain, What other way I see not ; for we here Live on tough roots and stubs, to thirft inur'd More than the Camel, and to drink go far, 540 Men to much mifery and hardship born ; But if thou be the Son of God, command That out of these hard stones be made thee Bread; So fhalt thou save thyfelf, and us relieve With Food, whereof we wretched seldom taste. 345

He ended, and the Son of God reply'd : Think ft thou such force in Bread ; is it not written (For I discern thee other than thou feem's) Man lives not by bread only but each Word Proceeding from the mouth of God? who fed 350 Our Fathers here with Manna; in the Mount Moses was forty days, nor eat nor drank, And forty days Elijab without food Wandred this barren watte, the fame I now : Why doft thou then suggest to me distrust, 355 Knowing who I am, as I know who thou art ?

Whom thus answer'd th’ Arch-Fiend, now undir'Tis true, I am that Spirit unfortunate, [guis'd.


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